VICTORIA, CANADA: A garden city by the sea
Have you ever been to the city of gardens? And in case you are having trouble figuring out which city in the world is called the city of gardens, it’s Victoria, British Columbia. The city is the provincial capital and is situated on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, which has been recognized by National Geographic as one of the world’s best cold-water diving destinations. The beautiful city has more than a few distinct features that make it stand out, which also results in more than four million tourists visiting this gorgeous city annually.
ABOUT THE CITY OF VICTORIA
Victoria has a population of over 386,000 and an area of 19.47km2 which makes it the 7th most densely populated city in Canada, but a densely populated Canadian city is still quite a bit of space compared to other countries. As is the case for many places around the world, the city was named after Queen Victoria when the first British settlements started as early as 1843. Some of the most beautiful features of the city are the historic buildings that retain their original charm, something which makes visitors feel like they have been misplaced in time.
Among the historic buildings, the most famous that the city has to offer as landmarks to attract large numbers of visitors include:
BC Legislature Building – It was completed in 1897 and serves as the home of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
The Empress Hotel – The hotel first opened in 1908 and is still open to visitors to this day.
The Fisgard Lighthouse – A national historic site maintained by Parks Canada.
The Christ Church Cathedral – Built in 1929 on the site of an older church, this cathedral is the seat of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia.
Craigdarroch Castle – A Scottish baronial caste built for the Dunsmuir family in 1890.
The city also hosts the second oldest Chinatown in North America. Collecting many international distinctions, Victoria holds the title of one of the top 20 countries in the world for quality of life. It is also named the most romantic city in Canada. A few other accolades include Canada’s best city for women and the second-best small city in the world. A significant portion of the population consists of students, out of which, the majority are non-local. These students are attracted by institutions like:
The University of Victoria
The Victorian College of Art
The Canadian College of Performing Arts
The student population and residents in general have the luxury of the mildest climate out of all of Canada, and for a country known as The Great White North, not getting much snow is quite lucky. Because of this, Victoria has is a hotspot for retirees from around the country. The snow-free climate combined with the slow-paced life of Victoria makes it a more than ideal place to spend relaxing days.
Victoria is also fairly green in terms of the use of bicycles. As one of Canada’s most bike-friendly cities, it has hundreds of kilometres of bike paths. Bike routes are spread throughout the city and a lot of cycling enthusiasts go there to ride the famous Galloping Goose Regional Trail. Green in a different way, Butchart Gardens receives over one million visitors each year to stroll its garden paths. Additionally, one of the foremost cultural institutions of the world, the Royal BC Museum which was founded in 1886 is also situated in downtown Victoria.
EXPLORING GREATER VICTORIA
Vancouver Island is also globally acclaimed and recognized for its beauty within Canada. The southern Vancouver Island region around the city offers a wealth of natural, as well as man-made riches. Mountain vistas, scenic views of the ocean, and its historical architecture offer something for all tastes. The city also has an annual flower count that started back in 1970 and continues to this day. Billions of blooms have been counted over the past few years with a bloom count of 3.4 billion in 2014.
There are over 70 urban parks, and being such a small city means there is enough outdoor space for everyone. The Inner Harbor is said to be its heart. Sprinkled with historic buildings and overseeing all the activities going on around the harbour, it is the perfect place for visitors to experience the essence of the city. It is in the same area that you will find the majority of famous landmarks. The harbour doubles as a seaport and a seaplane airport. It is also a cruise ship and ferry destination where tourists can go to have a cruise around Vancouver Island or take one of the whale watching tours that are so famous. The inner harbour in itself is truly worth visiting, and if there, don’t forget to visit Government Street, Beacon Hill Park, and Downtown Victoria.
VICTORIA IN LOCKDOWN
In spite of its natural beauty and historical significance, visitors are staying away from Victoria, but for an understandable reason. As global travel restrictions stretch on, it seems it will be quite some time before we get to see tourists strolling Victoria’s streets. But lucky for us, there is a way we can still visit Victoria without actually having to travel or undergoing the hassle of waiting in long lines for flights or booking hotels.
Virtual reality has made it possible to visit any destination around the world without having to leave the confines of your home. The tourism industry is now turning towards VR to allow travelling enthusiasts to visit those places they have been longing to go to. Not physically, but virtually.
The VR Voyage has taken the initiative of making it possible for people to visit the beautiful city of Victoria. Together with our local partners, we are sharing Victoria’s best-kept secrets along with its most famous landmarks. We understand that there is still time before things truly get back to normal, but until you can visit in-person, a virtual visit is well worth it.